NBC’s fashion design competition show “Fashion Star” is like a cross between “American Idol,” “Project Runway,” the “Simple Life” (Nicole Richie’s on it), and “Newlyweds” (ditto Jessica Simpson). In other words, it’s the best new show on television. Competing designers receive mentorship from either Richie, Simpson, or designer John Varvatos, and compete against each other to sell their clothing to H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Macy’s. The elaborate runway shows bear pretty much zero relation to actual fashion shows that usually just involve music, a runway, and sometimes a decorative backdrop. But the result is masterful: Cirque du Soleil meets Broadway show meets fashion show — three of the best things to witness live.
Might Varvatos incorporate “Fashion Star”-style theatrics into his runway shows? “No!” he said, laughing, at a “Fashion Star” event in New York’s Fifth Avenue H&M last night. “It’s not my thing you know? I always say, I think we do beautiful runway shows” — (it’s true, he does) — “but I’m never going to do a Broadway production. It’s about the clothes and I’d even say if the show continues to go on, you’ll probably see less of that and more of the clothes.”
Varvatos stands out from Simpson and Richie because, while all three have very successful clothing brands, he’s the only seasoned true designer among them, counting three CFDA awards (the Oscar of fashion design, basically) among his accolades. (Varvatos also worked at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, where he launched the label’s men’s division.)
“There will always be some [theatrics]” on “Fashion Star,” he continued. “I’m not into the explosions and all that because the consumer still wants to see what those clothes look like.”
Varvatos with Nicole Richie in New York last night.